The Hui is collaborating with Sarah Donahue of Hawaii Pacific University on an exciting new research study! See Sarah's message below to learn more about the study and how you can be involved.
My name is Sarah Donahue, I'm a researcher from the Pelagicos Lab at HPU, and I'm working in collaboration with Hui Manu`o`Kū (and other great organizations) to study the diet and marine food web supporting our growing population of White Terns on O`ahu.
Our goals are to describe the diet using three approaches: (i) identification of prey from photos of adults provisioning chicks, (ii) identification of freshly dropped white tern prey using genetics, and (iii) analysis of the Carbon and Nitrogen isotope ratios in white tern tissues and their prey using opportunistically sampled deceased specimens.
This study aims to broaden our knowledge of our fairy friends; who colonized O`ahu in 1961 (Ord 1961) and have reached a population of over 2300 birds in the last 57 years (VanderWerf & Downs 2018). We are eager to create a "starting point" of data to be able to compare to future diet studies. We also want to develop a broader understanding of how these birds fit into the marine ecosystem surrounding the islands where they breed.
You may be wondering why am I writing all of this to you. Well, I am poking at your inner scientist button! I need YOUR HELP, as citizen scientists, to make the diet portion of this project possible.
So, if would like to assist us with this fascinating research please email your photos of White Tern parents with prey in their bills to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will share my findings with you and you will receive acknowledgement in any talks and papers using your observations.
Information to include for pictures:
- Day, year, time, location, nest, tree, and any additional descriptive information you may have (if you were there for the whole feed, how long did the parent feed, did you watch the chick get fed more then once, etc.).
Moreover, if you happen to be walking around (talking amazing photos!) and happen to come across prey that looks to be fresh, here's what you can do:
1) Take a picture
2) Put it in a ziploc bag
3) On a piece of paper, write day, time & location found and put it in the ziploc
4) Freeze it asap (if you don't mind putting it in your own freezer; to preserve it)
5) Email me and get a hold of Rich Downs with an exact location and which nest the prey is under and we will find a way to get it to the lab.
Everyone likes incentives and so we can make this a competition! To the top 5 people who provide the most prey, whether it be pictures, dropped fish or both, between now until January 31st, 2019, I will personally paint each of you, your favorite white tern picture and award you with a $20 Starbucks gift card.
I will be posting research updates for the project on the White Tern Citizen Science Facebook Group as well, for you all to see and to peak your interests more about learning about what these birds eat and how we can determine changes in food web assemblages by studying seabird diet and trophic position!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope you will help us out! If you have any questions about the project as well feel free to email me. Mahalo for your time and collaboration!